The epic showdown of quarterbacks did not materialize. But the Tom Brady and the New England Patriots capitalized on a key Green Bay fumble to start the fourth quarter and break open a tie game to pull out a 34-17 victory.
The 6-2 Patriots are atop the AFC East, while a second-straight defeat after their bye week left the 3-4-1 Packers in third place in the NFC North. Chicago, 5-3, and Minnesota, 5-3-1, both won Sunday.
Green Bay, 0-4 on the road this season, hosts the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field Sunday in a must-win game.
Akin to its loss to the Rams in Los Angeles last week, the Packers played toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s best teams. But in the crucial fourth quarter, another fumble led to their demise.
A familiar name created the turnover.
Lawrence Guy, a seventh-round draft pick of the Packers in 2011, played just two seasons in Green Bay and then embarked on stints in Indy, San Diego, and Baltimore before signing with New England in 2017.
With the game tied at 17, Guy caused the game-changing fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter, jarring the football loose from Aaron Jones’ arms after a six-yard run.
It was recovered at the Patriots’ 24 and Brady and the offense capitalized on the turnover for a 24-17 lead.
Receiver Josh Gordon sealed the victory with the game’s final touchdown, a 55-yard play that safety Tramon Williams whiffed on the attempted tackle. Gordon raced untouched for a 34-17 cushion with 7:20 remaining.
Quarterback Tom Brady, without top weapons in Ron Gronkowski and Sony Michel, relied on Gordon (five catches, 130 yards), Julian Edelman (six receptions, 71 yards), and James White (six catches, 72 yards plus two rushing TDs) in carving up an injury-depleted Green Bay secondary.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 24 of 43 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, said the Packers are not hitting on all cylinders.
“They just adjusted really well,” Rodgers said. “We got some things going, then they adjusted. We had some momentum there third quarter into the fourth. Obviously had that unfortunate fumble and I missed a couple opportunities there in the fourth quarter.”
A bright spot for the Packers offense was Marquez Valdes-Scantling, whose blend of speed and size continues to produce explosive plays. The rookie receiver had three catches for 101 yards, a 33.6-yard per catch average.
The Packers defense was hurt by injuries to Kevin King and Kentrell Brice and the ejection of safety Jermaine Whitehead, who threw a punch after a play at a Patriots lineman.